Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The true disciple of Amida and all Buddhas

As I already explained, Shinran Shonin taught that the true reason for all Buddhas appearance in the world is to help sentient beings entrust to Amida and be born after death in His Pure Land, where they can easily attain Nirvana. Thus, the logical conclusion he draw from here, is that the person who has faith in Amida is the true disciple of the Buddhas because he is in accord with their inermost intent. He said:

"The true disciple of the Buddha means this: 'true' contrasts with false and provisional. 'Disciple' means a disciple of Shakyamuni and other Buddhas, namely, the practitioner who has attained adamantine faith (shinjin). Because one certainly realizes great Nirvana with this faith and practice, one is called a true disciple of the Buddha"[1].

It is of great wonder to me why so many Buddhists of our days use their precious time in human form to try to achieve something for which they have all the chances to fail, that is, perfect Enlightenment, when they can simply entrust to Amida Buddha, go to His Pure Land after death, and instantly attain perfect Enlightenment there. Is it really wise to use our extremely short time in futile attempts to become a Buddha in this life, when all we have to do is let Amida carry us to His enlightened place where there are no obstacles, and where everything is automatically conducive to Enlightenment?

It becomes very clear why Shinran said that all those difficult practices of the self-power path (esoteric or exoteric) are just provisory teachings for those who cannot yet follow the simple path of faith in Amida Buddha. Sometimes, even advanced practitioners can't see the most simple truth. Because people complicate their minds, then complicated practices and teachings were given to them to keep them focused on the Buddha Dharma until they may become open to Amida's simple message of salvation: "entrust yourselves to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land" (Primal Vow).

Accoding to the 17th Vow, all Buddhas say the Name of Amida Buddha, so all Buddhas, no matter what practices or teachings are associated with them, are ultimately teaching the Primal Vow: "entrust yourself to Amida, say His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land". It takes a longer or shorter time for the various disciples and practitioners of many paths and Dharma gates until they realize the main intention of Shakyamuni and all Buddhas, but when they finaly do that they will all entrust to Amida, say His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land. All Buddhas point to Amida's Primal Vow and all Buddha lands are connected to the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. This is the most profound truth which very few are able to accept. Those who can accept this are called true disciples, while those who can’t, are provisional disciples. All practitioners who follow the various Buddhists methods of the self-power path (the Path of Sages), or enter the Pure Land way but do not rely exclusively and totally on the Power of Amida Buddha[2], are included in the category of provisional disciples:

“'Provisional' disciples  refer to practitioners of the path of sages and those who practice meditative or non-meditative good of the Pure Land Way'”.[3]

False disciples reffer to those who follow nonbuddhist practices and teachings. Shinran explained:

„'False' disciples refers to the adherents of the sixty-two views and the followers of the ninety-five wrong paths.

The Nirvana Sutra states:
'The World-honored One always preached, 'All non-Buddhists learn the ninety-five wrong teachings and fall into the evil realms'.

The Master of Kuang-ming Temple says:
'The ninety-five wrong teachings all defile the world;
Only the Buddha’s single path is pure and tranquil'".[4]

Urging us to become true disciples, Master Shan-tao said:

"Abandon the teachings that Amida Buddha abandoned, observe the practice that Amida Buddha observed, and leave the practices that Amida Buddha left. This is said to be 'in accordance with the teaching of Amida Buddha' and 'in compliance with the intent of Amida Buddha'. Such a person is referred to as the 'true disciple of Amida Buddha'".[5]

We must abandon everything which is not mentioned in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha, where only faith, saying of the Name in faith and wish for birth in the Pure Land are taught. If we do this, we are in accord with Amida's Primal Vow and we are His true disciples. Any Buddhist practice or teaching associated with it, which is not mentioned in the Primal Vow, like various meditation methods, mantras etc, should NOT be followed because they do not lead to birth in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land. This does NOT mean those practices and teachings are bad! Being part of the various Dharma gates they are all perfect and good in themselves, but I repeat, they are not leading to the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, because they were not mentioned in His Primal Vow. This is the only reason we should not follow them.

The true disciples of Amida and all Buddhas constitute de shinjin aspect of our sangha (arya sangha of Jodo Shinshu), which is the third object of refuge in the Three Jewels, according to the Jodo Shinshu teaching. See The Three Refuges in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism for more details.  

[1] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter II, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 126
[2] See the second part of the article, The Two Aspects of the Pure Land.
[3] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter III, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 134-135
[4] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter III, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 134-135
[5] Master Shan-tao quoted by Honen Shonin in An Outline of the Doctrine for Birth in the Pure Land, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.106

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